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700 Picnickers in White Pop Up at the Harborpark

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Photo: @shannonigoe via Twitter
Photo: @shannonigoe via Twitter

[Photos: @shannonigoe, @informeddiner, @bostonfab, and @OutdoorsCook/Twitter]

"God dinner hasn't even started yet and this is so f****** magical," read one tweet. Last night, nearly 700 people converged on the Harborpark at the Moakley Courthouse for a flash-mob picnic that originated in Paris over 20 years ago. ("Who knew you could have so much fun behind a courthouse?" tweeted one attendee.) There were no checkered blankets to be seen, though: everyone was dressed in white from head to toe - some even in wedding gowns - and seated at white tables and chairs, eating gourmet food with silverware and china. Le Dîner en Blanc, a "très chic" picnic, is taking place in twenty cities around the world this year. This is the first time that Boston has been included.

After paying $25-$35 for a ticket to the picnic, guest had to adhere to a stuffily-worded set of fashion guidelines: "They must wear white and be dressed elegantly. Originality is encouraged as long as it stays stylish and denotes taste." On top of that, they also had to provide all of their own supplies, including "a table, two (white) chairs, a picnic basket comprised of quality menu items and china dinner service." Would an attendee be thrown out (of the public space) if his or her outfit were deemed to be inelegant, or if the meal were not "quality?" Most likely not, as it was stressed that attendance was "necessary and mandatory" due to the desired aesthetic of a sea of white. (Do white-clad security guards show up at your home, tie a picnic basket to your arm, and drag you to the location if you don’t show?) In the event of bad weather, participants were expected to attend anyway, providing their own white umbrellas, white raincoats, or clear ponchos.

In its more than two decades of existence, the worldwide event hasn’t quite gone off without a hitch. Last year in New York, an error in the registration system allowed 1,800 would-be diners to pay for only 200 available seats, resulting in a lot of angry people requiring refunds. Additionally, "tradition" calls for men on one side of the table and women on the other:

"Colour, style, but also the symmetry of men and women are important components of this aesthetics...Moreover, regardless of the site, there is always a guest perspective which is more pleasing to the eye than the other. This first perspective is always given to women." Rumor has it that at past events, same-sex couples had to find a same-sex couple of the opposite sex and sign up together to maintain the gender segregation at the table, but once the event launched in New York last year, organizers realized it was a good idea to publicly announce that they would accommodate same-sex couples who wished to sit across from each other. And of course, there’s always the threat of bad weather. In addition to last night’s Boston event, Montreal participated as well. Other cities participating this summer include Kigali, Sydney, San Francisco, and Vancouver.

· 700 people gather for 'Diner en Blanc' in Boston [CBS Boston]
· Diner en Blanc Boston [Official Site]
· 1400 brave rain for Diner en Blanc in Toronto [blogTO]
· In glitch, Diner en Blanc charges 1800 diners for 200 seats [~ENY~]
· All coverage of Diner en Blanc on Eater [~EBOS~]

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